Halloween approaches, and in a city as old as Boston, there's no shortage of haunted historic places: I've rounded up five spooky places that will show you the city's eerie side. Check your inner skeptic at the door, and head out with me for a self-guided Boston ghost tour. Get ready to embrace Boston's otherworldly, weird, and stranger-than-fiction sites.
Fort Warren, on Georges Island in the Boston Harbor Islands, is notoriously haunted by the ghost of Melanie Lanier, also known as The Lady in Black. During the Civil War, Fort Warren served as a prisoner of war encampment for Confederate soldiers. In 1862, Lanier attempted to rescue her husband from the fort, accidentally killed him in doing so, and then was captured and hanged. Legend has it that's she's been haunting the fort ever since.
Omni Parker House
The historic Omni Parker House, right on the Freedom Trail, is the longest continuously operating hotel in the United States – so you know there are a lot of good ghost stories here. The Omni Parker's most famous spooky tale concerns Harvey Parker, the first owner of the hotel, who can be seen roaming the halls. The third floor is known to be particularly active for paranormal activity – elevators going up to the floor for no reason, sounds of spectral parties, and unexplained sightings and scents.
Granary Burying Ground
Just across the street from the Omni Parker House, the Granary Burying Ground is Boston's third-oldest cemetery, established in 1660. Three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence—Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine—are buried here, as well as Paul Revere. All told, more than 5,000 Bostonians have been laid to rest in this graveyard, including many victims of the Boston Massacre. Snap a few photos and see if there are any orbs – it's often one of the more active paranormal places in greater Boston.
Boston Molasses Flood site, Puopolo Park
Imagine a 40-foot tidal wave of molasses coming right at you, rushing through the streets of the North End at 35 miles per hour. That's exactly what happened on January 15, 1919, when a molasses tank exploded at the Purity Distilling Company at 529 Commercial Street. Today a plaque in Puopolo Park commemorates the Great Boston Molasses Flood, which all told left 21 people dead, hundreds injured, several blocks flooded, and many buildings and a railway line knocked off their foundations. And while this site might not be haunted per se, it's said that on warm days you can still smell molasses seeping up from the earth.
Sacco's Bowl Haven, Davis Square
Ok, so Ghost Hunters may have debunked all the hauntings at Sacco's in Somerville's Davis Square. But during the building's extensive renovations back in 2010 and 2011, the staff heard eerie footsteps and laughter in off hours, saw dark shadows, TVs flashed on and off, and bowling balls would come back through the ball return area -- even after the machines were shut off. Nowadays, the place is so crowded that there's a slim chance you'll find yourself alone with a ghost. But then again…
Is there a haunted place you've visited in Boston? Send me an email with your recommendations and I'll consider it for a follow-up story!